The practice of ‘networking’ is a difficult tool to master. As is wading through the mounds and mounds of information from website, speakers, friends, colleagues and family on how best to do it and what you 100% should not do.
To try and help with this influx of advice, we’ve narrowed down 5 classic #networkingmyths and busted them!
1 // “Networking is all about me…”
Hm. Nope. What we’ve tried to teach you throughout this month is that networking is more than just introducing yourself, what you do and asking for something from the other person.
It’s actually about having a conversation and building a business relationship.
Do you want a really cool example of this myth being busted in real life??
At an event we ran on March 19th, I was in conversation with a connection (let’s call her Alice), when another person I knew (let’s call her Natalie) came over to say hello to me.
I introduced the two to each other.
In turns out that Alice’s office is looking to hire a new Executive Assistant/Receptionist soon.
And what do you know … Natalie is looking for that position at the moment. #OpportunityAlert
This is the perfect example of how this networking scenario had virtually nothing to do with me – I was simply the facilitator for an opportunity and a (potential) solution! BOOM. And that’s what I like to call ‘networking synergy’.
2 // “I need a LARGE network to prove how good I am #networking.”
Actually, as per our first article, you need to constantly curate and mould your network so that it is worth its weight in gold … rather than just add, add, add.
You want to be aiming for quality > quantity.
I joined LinkedIn on December 1 in 2015, and my connection count at the time of writing is 315.
To some of you, that will sound EXCEPTIONALLY low for someone who has been working in industry for (almost) 4 years.
However, if I scan through my connections on LinkedIn I could feel confident saying that if I messaged at least 85% of them right now – it wouldn’t be an out-of-the-blue message.
What do I mean by that? It means that I have regular touch points with at least 85% of my online network (whether on LinkedIn, in real life or on a separate digital platform)!!!
Whilst there is no ‘perfect’ recipe for networking, trying to aim for a big connection count for the sake of it is definitely not the way to approach it!
3 // “I need to be a professional to network.”
Ya’ll who came up with this one? It’s so not true!! A TRUE professional is not going to let the fact that you’re still studying affect how the treat a conversation with you.
Plus there are heaps of other things you can focus on, rather than your degree and an assignment you’re currently working on!!
For example … Are you part of a club at your University? What current projects are you working on? Are you completing an internship at the moment? What have you learned so far?
Don’t forget that if you do find yourself in conversation with an industry leader whose footsteps you would someday like to follow … this is your opportunity to ask them as much as you can … about everything!!
4 // “I can only talk about my successes.”
Actually it’s quite refreshing if you bring your true self to your conversations with potential new connections. This mean your faults and mistakes are included and are WELCOMED.
As Lisa pointed out in our second article … someone who is ‘too perfect’ raises alarm bells. People will only invest as much as you are willing to put on the table, so in order to have a genuine interaction, it requires you to be well – genuine!
If you choose to share what you learned from an error, it will probably help your connection avoid the same mistake, and you will find that the connection will be stronger because of your honesty!
5 // “I have to agree with everything the person I’m talk to says, otherwise they won’t like me.”
You don’t have to do this haha. In fact, I would argue that having your own opinion and standing by it … is best practice in a networking scenario, at work and in life!
Events, workplaces, boardroom meetings … they will ALWAYS include a vast array of people with different backgrounds, experience and opinions (well, hopefully)!!!
Which means you will always face the challenge of potentially disagreeing with someone else. Be wary of getting too hot-headed or losing your cool. Simply agree to disagree and move on to the next topic!